You know that feeling of Deja vu? Where you just know that you’ve already lived through an experience, but here you are again somehow. We here at Offbeat Mixed Media have been experiencing Deja vu lately.
You may recall (especially if you’re a Subscriber) a previous blog “The Tee Shirts They Didn’t Want You To See” in which we broached the subject of censorship in the Tee Shirt Industry. When we first started out here at Offbeat Mixed Media, we were having our shirts made by a company that censored several of our favorite designs for various specious reasons. We found another printer to fulfill our orders and had all of our images available online for over 3 years.
As you know, we recently began selling our products on Amazon, and orders have been coming in – so far the crowd favorite is the design “Failed Painter – Adolf Hitler – Support the Arts”, (part of our Support the Arts Series pictured above) which is interesting in terms of demographics to say the least.
After 3 years of having this shirt available, these new Amazon orders are the first of this particular shirt to be printed and…
Our new printer refuses to print them!
Images of Adolf Hitler are banned based on their Acceptable Content Guidelines. (The Series is still available, but unfortunately at a higher price, as they must now be printed as a Limited Edition and at a higher manufacturers cost.) On the bright side, we’ve located a wonderful local printer who does not practice censorship.
The whole situation has blown the collective minds here at Offbeat Mixed Media, and we’re Offbeat! That the Hitler design has met with more interest than any other shirt we’ve created is one thing we didn’t expect.
But then to have our printer ban them! We find this ironic – You know who else liked censorship? Hitler.
We were curious to know more. After all, as we pointed out in our first email to the printer, “We are a design and art company that specializes in ‘off-beat’ materials that are often satirical in nature.” We mentioned that “we chose to do business with [their] company because we felt secure that [they] wouldn’t censor our materials.”
Morever, we made the point that “this particular design has been up on [their] site for years already,” and that “None of our designs depict or promote anything illegal or hateful, nor do they violate intellectual property laws. This particular design depicts an image of Adolf Hitler, with the captions “Failed Artist” and “Support the Arts”. The irony here, is that such a design would definitely have been banned by the Nazi Party and would have subjected the artists to being rounded up, under a fascist dictatorship. Fortunately, we live in a country that allows us to make fun of Hitler, and to stimulate free thought, without the risk of persecution.”
“In no way we are [sic] trying to limit your free speech,” the Printer responded. “Your design is refused due to ethical reasons and in respect to victims of the Nazi regime.”
We couldn’t wait to see what other images they had blocked. We came back with the fact that “not one of our designs violates [their] actual written policies (none of them are remotely hateful).” And Offbeat Partner Jason went on to write poignantly, “I can’t speak to your interpretation of the policy, but wiping Hitler from the public discourse is NOT how you prevent the next fascist regime…quite the contrary. The victims of the Nazi regime would likely be the first people to support what this design stands for…that Hitler was a failed artist, and that if he had been a successful artist, the entire Nazi regime might not have existed in the first place. The shirt in no way glorifies or promotes Hitler or hate. But it does acknowledge his existence, and points to his legacy as a teachable moment for humanity. When we look around the world today, and see active neo-Nazis and fascists promoting actual hate and violence, we can either look away and ignore it, or we can take a stand to oppose it. That’s what this design does.”
After all this back and forth discussing fascism, censorship and trying to run a start-up tee shirt business, we concluded that since they also flagged the Charlie Manson image (“Failed Musician – Charlie Manson – Support the Arts”), but hadn’t flagged the Christ image (“Failed Carpenter – Jesus Christ – Support the Arts”), and since all three of these designs represent the exact same concept, they’re all part of the same series and cannot be separated, from our standpoint. If one is deemed “hateful”, logically they all must be deemed “hateful”.
So we removed the entire “Support the Arts” Series, as it develops, from our Printer’s account, and will fulfill those orders directly with a local Printing Company.
Order a Limited Edition Support the Art Tee Shirt (or all 3!) today on Etsy for $35 each.
Order any of our other tee shirts starting at $20 today on Amazon.
Support Offbeat Mixed Media before we’re the next controversial image in the Series!
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